Art exhibits, library books, parent education, health, and wellness — Fresno’s newest community resource center is offering all that, and much more, to a community and neighborhood long thirsting for easy access to such services.
The Granville-Teague Community Resource Center, the first of its kind in the Highway City community, held its grand opening Tuesday afternoon at 4718 N. Polk Ave. to great fanfare.
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But the center, located in a 5,500-square-foot building that resembles a Prairie Style bungalow, had already been open for business for its three tenant organizations, Centro La Familia, Central Unified School District, and the Fresno County Library. The $1.5 million project, located near Teague Elementary School in west Fresno, is owned by the local nonprofit Highway City Community Development Inc.
And business is brisk, said Ana Robleto, a family advocate and intake specialist for Centro La Familia, which offers parent education, victim services, health and wellness, and Department of Justice-authorized DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and immigration services. Up until now, Highway City residents have had to drive to downtown Fresno or Kerman for Centro La Familia services that are subsidized by Fresno County.
Putting Services in the Community
Robleto has watched over the past three months from her office as the Teague Library branch and Central Unified community resource office opened, attracting more community members, kids, and parents.
“It’s so exciting to see the library open, and Central Unified, and get to know the Highway City community,” she said.
Providing access to services under one roof is important to Highway City residents, Robleto said.
The Centro La Familia office and Central Unified family resource room open at 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, while the library branch is open Tuesday-Thursday afternoons from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Central Unified community resource/information room has liaisons to provide assistance to parents and guardians of students in navigating the school district’s services.
‘Dream Come True’
“This (center) is my dream come true.” — Nora Ceballos, Central Unified parent engagement coordinator
Computers in her office link her to Central Unified’s database, which she can access while talking to parents about their child’s classes and grades. And to make sure that the entire community can get needed assistance, said Ceballos, who speaks Spanish and English, the office will employ assistants who also speak Hmong or Punjabi.
“This (center) is my dream come true,” she said.
Lots of Residents, Few Services
Highway City, a steadily growing area west of Highway 99 near Shaw Avenue with more than 50,000 residents, would be Fresno County’s third-largest city if it was separately incorporated, Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco said. Even so, Highway City has lacked many of the amenities and services available in other cities, he said — until now.
“Residents say library services are their top unmet need,” he said.
Meeting the Needs of All Readers
Library assistant Lee Cuadros, noting that the new library has more than four times as many periodicals as the old space at Teague Elementary across the street, plus four computer terminals instead of just one.
“Whole families are coming in and getting (library) cards,” he said.
The collection will be expanding soon, because there is already demand for Punjabi-language materials not now in the library, he said.
Kaleb Gillispie, 6, who lives in the neighborhood and was on hand for the “ribbon-tying” opening ceremony, said he already got his library card. His first checkout? A book that tells all about Pokémon characters, the Kerman Christian first grader said.
Fresno Keeps Investing in Highway City
The community center’s major donor partners are the Fresno Housing Authority, Better Opportunity Builders, Granville Homes, Highway City Community Development, Central Community Church, Fresno County Library, Wells Fargo bank, and the California Wellness Foundation. Darius Assemi, who spoke at Tuesday’s ceremony, is the president and CEO of Granville Homes and publisher of GV Wire.
Those partnerships are critical to projects like the Granville-Teague Community Resource Center, which can be a template for future projects, said Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria, whose District 1 area includes Highway City.
“When we have partnerships between not only government, nonprofits, but also the private sector, you see transformation in the neighborhood,” she said. “And what we are seeing here today is really a transformation of the area that we’re standing in here.”
Over the past few years the city of Fresno has invested more than $20 million in the area, including Inspiration Park, Soria said. And more is on the way, including sidewalks that will let residents walk safely to the park and community center, she said.